bill-swift - July 12, 2012
It must be tough being a soccer star like Brazilian stud Ronaldinho, loved the world over by fans and foes alike. Being able to play a game that you love and get paid for it--it's a dream for kids and adults everywhere. What can be almost as good as playing the game (and getting paid) though are the ridiculous amounts of money that companies will pay you to act like you like their product.
Endorsements; the second love of athletes anywhere. The idea that someone will pay you thousands or even millions of dollars to act like you can't wait to snap into a Slim Jim, love Diet Coke, or can't play without Gatorade is almost as cool as getting paid to play the game.
Ronaldinho was enjoying a cool $700,000+ payday from Coke, but blew that after showing up to a press conference sipping a Pepsi. Since the contract was to run through 2014 that comes out to about $1.5 million he'll lose for having a Pepsi. I hope he really likes Pepsi. Coke officials were understandably upset with him and decided to terminate his contract.
The fact that the player has appeared with a can of Pepsi was the straw that broke the camel's back," Coca Cola marketing chief Marcelo Pontes told the paper. "The sponsorship had become embarrassing.
It's kind of hard to argue with the Coke guys. They pay him because when fans see their favorite drinking a Coke they want to do it too. When they see him in a commercial for Coke, but drinking a Pepsi it defeats the purpose of the endorsement.
The mistake might not have been as foolish as it seems. Ronaldinho had just signed with a new team, Atletico Mineiro, who happens to be sponsored by Pepsi. It should come as no surprise that there will be plenty of Pepsi cans around at a press conference announcing he's joining the team.
While that was the final straw, the split seemed to be a long time coming. His former team had released tapes of him bringing women back to his hotel (not sure why that is a big deal), but the webcam show of him playing with mini-Ronaldinho last November sure might have done the trick.
It doesn't help that he's been a longtime supporter of Pepsi either. Maybe someone at Coke should have done their homework.